Kings Mead – Sunday 21st January –

For the first Sunday Stroll of the new year 12 people met up at the Ware Library car park on a dry but overcast morning for a 4 mile walk around King’s Meads – one of Hertfordshire’s largest nature reserves. The recent freezing weather had made many of the muddy paths solid but these had begun to thaw in the last 24 hours and there were areas of boggy ground to negotiate.

Our first highlight on the walk was a pair of Stonechats perched on a barbed wire fence surrounding one of the grazing meadows (the first of five seen across the Meads during the morning). Much of the open water was still frozen and the East and West Pools below the A10 viaduct were iced over except for some free water at the edges. Four species of gull loafed on the ice and Gadwall, Shoveler, Coot and Little Grebe could be found where it had thawed. From the Chadwell Bank overlooking the site, the virtually resident Peregrine Falcon was spotted flying round before perching on a telegraph pole next to the railway line. 

Our route took us along the path running parallel with the railway where the hedgerows held Redwings and Blackbirds along with a small number of tits, a few Dunnocks and a flock of House Sparrows near the allotments. We crossed the railway and over Hartham Common before heading towards Ware Park and following the public footpath up the hill and through the woodland. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Snowdrops could be found on the woodland floor – these are often among the first plants to flower in the new year – but there were also the obvious green shoots of Daffodils, which included a single yellow trumpetlike flower in full bloom.

The footpath along the ridge allowed panoramic views across the Lee Valley before it dropped down and over the A10 dual carriageway leading through the grounds of the pharmaceutical company, Glaxo, to the Lee Navigation towpath, that led us back to the car park.

Thanks to Ted Bell and Mike Oakland for leading this pleasant walk.